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AGO 1951 No. 475 - March 16, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

PUBLIC HOSPITAL DISTRICTS ‑- TERRITORY INCLUDED.

A public hospital district can be neither organized nor altered in any way so as to include lands lying in two counties.

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                                                                  March 16, 1951

Honorable Wilbur G. Hallauer
State Representative
House of Representatives
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 475

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of March 11 relating to the Chelan County Hospital District, and asking the following question:

            May a public hospital district change its boundaries so as to include territory in another county?

            You are advised:

            A public hospital district can be neither organized nor altered in any way so as to include lands lying in two counties.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 2, chapter 264, Laws of 1945 (§ 6090-31, Rem. Supp. 1945) authorizes the establishment of public hospital districts "* * * Within the State of Washington in counties having less than 25,000 population."

            The question presented by the quoted language is: Did the Legislature authorize the creation of a district within the counties designated or within the state and in more than one county.

            We are of the opinion that the construction to be placed upon chapter 264, Laws of 1945 (§ 6090-30, et seq., Rem. Supp. 45) is that public hospital districts may be organized only within a county and may not include territory in two counties.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Sections 3 and 4 of chapter 264, Laws of 1945 (§§ 6090-32, 6090-33, Rem. Rev. Supp. 1945) refer to the duties of The Board of County Commissioners, whereas there would be two Boards of County Commissioners involved if the hospital district could include land in two counties.  See section 2, chapter 183, Laws of 1945 (§ 6099-11, Rem. Supp., 1945), authorizing health districts in two or more counties, and section 2, chapter 75, Laws of 1947 (§ 8246-2, Rem. Supp. 1947), authorizing inter-county rural library districts by the joint action of two or more counties.

            A public hospital district must be coextensive with the limits of a county (§ 3, chapter 264, Laws of 1945) unless it embraces an area less than the entire county (§ 4, chapter 264, Laws of 1945).

            Section 3, chapter 264, Laws of 1945, refers to The Auditor, section 6, thereof, providing for suit, refers tothe county in which the public hospital district is located.  Section 16, thereof, refers tothe County Treasurer of the county in which such district is situated.

            It is true that section 5 of chapter 264, Laws of 1945, provides that chapter 1, Laws of 1931, relating to boundaries and consolidation of public utility districts, shall govern public hospital districts, but chapter 1, Laws of 1931, authorizes the creation of public utility districts "* * * within the limits of the State of Washington, * * *," and does not limit such districts to a county.  It does not, therefore, govern hospital districts in regards to the territory which such districts may include.

            In 1947 the Legislature passed three acts with relation to public hospital districts, amending section 2, chapter 264, Laws of 1945, which we have been construing.

            The first amendment was chapter 93, Laws of 1947, which simply provided a method for determining the population of counties and did not construe the meaning of the section about which you inquire.

            The second amendment was chapter 225, Laws of 1947 (§ 6090-31, Rem. Supp. 1947), which provided

            "Section 2. Municipal corporations, to be known as Public Hospital Districts, are hereby authorized and may be established within the several counties of the state as hereinafter provided."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            This amended language plainly indicates the intent of the Legislature that public hospital districts are authorized only within a county.

            The third amendment is chapter 229, Laws of 1947 (§ 6090-34, Rem. Supp., 1947), which again makes chapter 1, Laws of 1931, relating to public utility districts, the law governing public hospital districts, insofar as applicable.

            We have explained why the public utility district act can not apply to the public hospital district act, with relation to territory that may be included.

            In 1949 the Legislature amended a portion of the public hospital district act (§ 18, chapter 197, Laws of 1949; § 6090-35, Rem. Supp. 1949), but did not change section 2, chapter 225, Laws of 1947, which, therefore, still limits public hospital districts to territories lying within one county.

            In your letter you asked certain questions based upon the assumption that the Chelan County Hospital district could include territory in Douglas County. Since that is not possible we do not consider these questions.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

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